Collecting Vintage & Antique Sewing Machines – Brands to Know
Vintage sewing machines are a great find at local estate sales. Whether it’s a Singer, Kenmore, or Bernina, vintage sewing machines are fun and fascinating machines. Let’s talk more about why we think collecting is a good idea and talk more about some of the most popular brands you’ll likely find.
Whether you’re looking for function, aesthetics, or a little piece of history, collecting sewing machines is an adventure. When looking to start your collection, determine what you want to accomplish with your new find.
Function: If you’re looking for a functional machine (yes, most still work!) to help you sew or mend, be sure to test the machine before you buy it.
Aesthetics: Vintage sewing machines are uniquely beautiful, so when it comes to aesthetics, pick a machine that fits well in your home and collection.
History: The first working sewing machine was invented in 1830 by a French tailor, Barthelemy Thimonnie, with the first American sewing machine patent was awarded in 1846. Getting the mechanics right was challenging with one brand rising quickly to the top of the market.
Vintage & Antique Brands - What you Need to Know
In the early 1850s, Isaac Singer invented the first sewing machine. This machine was powered by a treadle that was rocked by foot. By the 1860s, Singer held 22 patents and was selling more than 20,000 sewing machines a year, and in 1889 they introduced the first electric sewing machine. Their vintage sewing machines are relatively common; however, some models (like the Singer 221/222 Featherweight) are highly sought after.
While they didn’t get their start until the 1930s, Kenmore machines were popular with housewives that needed an economical sewing machine. These machines were simple and served a distinct and important role in the households they served. Kenmore holds a great deal of charm and nostalgia thanks to its role in many middle-class homes.
Bernina Sewing Machines are a Swedish brand that became popular in American homes in the 1890s. They are well-designed machines that are still very popular in America today.
In 1932, Bernina focused on the home sewing market and their approach worked well. They designed machines, like Model 105, that were practical and useful to everyday homemakers.
Pfaff sewing machines were first manufactured in 1862. During their first decade, they produced about 1,000 machines but quickly increased production through the 1800s. By 1910, they are manufactured and sold more than a million machines and were known worldwide.
The company is known today for its heavy-duty sewing machines that have heavyweight materials like denim. It’s this durability that makes these machines so popular today, as many collectors use their machines.
Like with most antiques and vintage items there are a few factors that determine worth:
Condition: Simply put, machines in working condition are worth more than those that aren’t.
Rarity: It will take some research on your part to know whether or not a machine is rare. For example, some models of the Singer 221/222 Featherweights are scares, and therefore, worth more. As you collect, don’t necessarily focus on rarity, but rather usability.
Age: To be considered vintage, the machine needs to be made before 1900. Anything “newer” is considered an antique.
If you’re looking to start or add to your collection, check out our upcoming estate sales. We just might have what you’re looking for.